NOT the Onion! Florida Bill Would Allow Adoption Agencies to Discriminate Against Republicans

by HRC Staff

Bill goes beyond Indiana’s anti-LGBT bill because it endorses taxpayer-funded discrimination based on religious and political beliefs

WASHINGTON – A dangerously broad bill is shockingly close to becoming law in Florida. The measure would enshrine special discrimination rights into Florida law by allowing any private adoption agency –  both secular and religious, and including agencies that receive taxpayer dollars – to discriminate against prospective parents based on the agency's religious or political beliefs, including those regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, family status, and even support for the Second Amendment.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, in partnership with the state equality organization Equality Florida, has repeatedly called on lawmakers to abandon the bill that is motivated by the same political interests as Indiana’s widely criticized so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA).

“This sweepingly broad bill specifically endorses taxpayer-funded discrimination against a significant range of Floridians,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Adoption determinations should be made based on the best interest of the child, not on the religious or political beliefs of the agency. Florida lawmakers ought to abandon any law that could make it more difficult for vulnerable children to be placed in loving, committed forever homes.”

Proponents of this troubling legislation were unsuccessful yesterday in making the language an amendment to a broader adoption overhaul bill in the Senate (SB 320), but members of the Florida House of Representatives could vote for passage of their discriminatory adoption bill (HB 7111) as early as today.  HB 7111 passed through the House Judiciary Committee with a vote of 11-4 on April 2nd.

The bill strips otherwise eligible, prospective parents of legal recourse if they’ve been discriminated against and prohibits the state from withholding taxpayer money from agencies discriminating against qualified families. One of the cruelest consequences of the bill is that it would allow agencies to refuse to place foster children with members of their extended families - a practice often considered to be in the best interest of the child - based on the relative’s marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, political affiliation, or religion.  A loving, unmarried grandparent, for example, or a stable, welcoming relative of a different faith could be deemed unsuitable under the proposed law.

Research shows that Florida, like Indiana, is already paying an economic penalty by failing to protect its LGBT residents and visitors. An economic study released last week showed that Florida businesses lose $362-million a year because of the state’s lack of a uniform anti-discrimination law covering sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Passing this bill clearly moves Florida backwards by enshrining taxpayer-funded discrimination into state law.

According to a report by the Williams Institute about the anti-LGBT adoption bill, LGB individuals or same-sex couples in Florida are raising approximately 2,460 adopted children and 160 foster children. The report states, “If those 160 foster children were to be adopted by their foster families next year, the state could save more than $1 million by not keeping them in the foster care system.”

On behalf of the children of the state who deserve loving and caring homes, Equality Florida and HRC continue to call on fair-minded legislators and Governor Rick Scott to stop this blatantly discriminatory effort.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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